Gilas vs Japan: Charm of third try worries Baldwin
CHANGSHA CITY, China – Gilas Pilipinas has gotten Japan’s number so many times in the past decade or so, the latest being victories in this year’s Jones Cup and in the second round of the Fiba Asia Championship preliminaries.
Ironically enough, this is what coach Tab Baldwin hates the most.
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“I hate playing a team three times. I almost hate trying to beat them three times,” Baldwin told Filipino reporters after the Filipinos advanced opposite the Japanese to the Final Four of the Olympic Qualifier here, set at 10 p.m. on Friday.
“We don’t have any choice now, they’re our opponents,” Baldwin went on, before explaining: “In some ways, I think there are positives when you beat a team two times, perhaps they think maybe we got their number.
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“But the reality is that the third time gets really tough, because you deal with complacency within your team even,” he said. “It’s a human instinct, a basic characteristic.”
The Filipinos drubbed Japan in Taipei, 75-60, in a game where Terrence Romeo broke out internationally and helped Gilas finish second in the Jones Cup.
Less than a week ago, the Filipinos survived a scare against this same, resilient Japanese team, pounding out a 73-66 victory in a game where Andray Blatche hurt his right ankle in a tight offensive play.
READ: Fiba Asia: Gilas Pilipinas escapes Japan
Japan has shown that it belongs this deep in the tournament, dramatizing their campaign with an 81-67 conquest of Qatar on Thursday, which stands as the only reversal of the tournament thus far.
“They’re very determined. This is Japan’s chance,” Baldwin said. “I would have imagined in the beginning that they didn’t see themselves here. And if they win one more game they’ll be in the Final.
“But they’re not looking at that right now. They’re looking at us and they’re trying to figure out what they didn’t do in those first two games that they need to do in this third (game) and beat us.”
Meanwhile, Baldwin and his staff must’ve spent most of the night after the 82-70 win over Lebanon trying to find out that one thing that has prevented Japan from beating the Philippines for so long now.
An entire country is praying that they have identified that now.
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